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Old 19th August 2009, 19:56   #1
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Default India as a base For Restoration of Vintage and Classic Cars

Just surfed through a lovely website. Shows once lovely and gorgeous Mercs being junked in Kentucky, USA.


We restore these cars so painstakingly, bit by bit, with so much efforts and by spending a King's ransom here in India, but can just see how these are rotting away in the US, in acres and acres of space!

A feedback by Nitin from Houston, Texas goes thus for the above observation of mine in a teambhp forum post

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/intern...ml#post1438440 (Upgrade your old car in Germany and get paid for it. EDIT : Now UK & USA too!)

Anjan,the reason is plain and simple. The number of individuals who would take the time and effort, as well as pump in a lot of money for such projects is minimal.Very few people like doing these things,and if at all, its mostly for the American classics. I know one person who's been trying to restore a 1967 Merc 250SL for the past 5-6 years,and the trouble he's been facing is tough to explain.
I wish the Govt would ship these cars to people willing to restore them,instead of mashing them up into sheets of metal.

Reply to the post from Nitin by me:

True Nitin, could follow the American predicament.I wish our government takes cue and allows imports of vintage and classic cars solely for restoration here. The cars can be bought for pittances. If desired, the car after restoration can be kept in India for domestic sale, or resold to any willing buyer abroad.
I am sure that would generate jobs for thousands of unemployed people and would earn foreign exchange.Spares fabrication industries for old car spares will also spring up and act as ancillaries to supply restorers with all the diet required for rebuilding cars. In fact, it can rival any export industry in terms of employment, business turnover, foreign exchange earnings and profits.
India can be made as a base for vintage and classic car restoration. The cheap labour will act as a catalyst.

Mods not sure whether such a compilation of posts from another thread here would be proper, but thought this idea will be appreciated here as a new thread, in the Vintage and Classic Cars section.

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 19th August 2009 at 19:58.
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Old 20th August 2009, 12:10   #2
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We will become a dumping ground for these countries. Also the local car industry wouldnt allow it to happen anyways.

If only a car can be bought here restored and send back it would work. But buying scrap and then selling it new by refurbishing it should be a big no-no.

We dont even want to get to dealing with ARAI certifications and other associated requirements to have the car/s roadworthy here.
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Old 20th August 2009, 14:41   #3
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Lightbulb Thinking Cap

Interesting thread Anjan. As a classic car lover, what you're proposing seemed delightful. But putting on the corporate hat, a few questions come to mind.

1. The "Industry" concept and its flaws - Currently the Vintage & Classic Car Restoration (lets call it VCCR) industry operates on one-offs. Individual restorers carrying on restoration in their own capacity, no specialization, no concept of professional and amateur. If you pick up any 2 cars of the same Make and model, you'll see wide differences in the methods chosen as well as components used. No one cares how many labourers are used or how many days it takes. The end result is more important than the means.

But the day the "industry" concept comes in, it will have to have its own legistlations. Restorers will have to lay down the methods they use. Taxes will be levied on the components as well as services rendered. Import laws will have to be put into place, to ensure that "importing a classic for restoration" doesnt become an eyewash to smuggle classics into the country. Overall, it will be a logistical & legal nightmare.

2. The concept of Standards - Any industry needs to lay down certain standards. Standards of costing, standards of methods, standards of import and export. VCCR is not a black and white industry where you go and ask a restorer "Hey, you're charging me 1 lakh for restoring a 48 Austin. But my friend over there says you did up his 50 Austin for 40K". What will make laying down standards nightmarish is that no classic is ever salvaged in the same state as another classic. How will the restorer plot his estimates?

3. Quality Control -

Spares fabrication industries for old car spares will also spring up and act as ancillaries to supply restorers with all the diet required for rebuilding cars
This point sounds very utopic. In the course of my profession, I've worked up close with a few component manufacturers for 2 & 4 wheelers. I was amazed to see the quality control standards that automobile manufacturers lay down for them. The larger ones are "pre-approved" meaning that the testing is done right in the component manufacturer's facility and it reaches the automaker JIT. How will VCCR ensure similar quality standards?

4. Where are the volumes? - Again, employment to thousands of people sounds very utopic. Where are the volumes to justify someone venturing into the business of VCCR component manufacturing? For example, someone becomes a Component manufacturer of Classic Mercedes cars. How many orders do you think he'll get in a year to justify his setup? Remember that 50s and 60s were not the age of standardization and platform sharing. In today's world, a component that can be used in a Holden can be used on an Opel, as also a Chevrolet. It wasnt like that back then.

Please spend some time thinking about these points. What you're proposing might turn out to be a feasible business case after all, provided answers to these questions are supplied!
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Old 20th August 2009, 14:57   #4
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Makes a lot of sense.

Restoration is highly labour intensive. I guess the Guru's have the skills, and spares can now be imported relatively easily. How about a SEZ for vintage cars?
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Old 20th August 2009, 17:32   #5
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Originally Posted by sgii[B
t[/b]k;1441555]Makes a lot of sense.

Restoration is highly labour intensive. I guess the Guru's have the skills, and spares can now be imported relatively easily. How about a SEZ for vintage cars?
anjans suggestions are good in Theory, but difficult in Practice!!
also at least keep that dreaded SEZ out of this vintage/classic hobby
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Old 20th August 2009, 17:37   #6
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This whole issue is contentious. As an example Till date I have never found in India someone who can chrome to factory specs, forget one stop restoration solutions.

I have observed restoration practices in America when I lived there, and the restoration process is very very different from what we have here. The amount of infrastructre that American restorers have to achieve the results is so humongous that if one puts in that kind of funds here no body will pay to validate the return on investment.

Imports for satisfaction of local Classic car enthusists is validated provided the imports are certified and validated by authorities as Genuine Classics by country of origin. Afterall like someone said before me we do not want to become dumping grounds for auto junk from the first world.
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Old 20th August 2009, 23:06   #7
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Read through the posts friends. I know these ideas are Utopian and quite ahead of their time- may be a few years hence, we can be geared up for such an exercise.
To allow such imports the laws must be stringent for classifying categories of imports, to prevent our lands from becoming dumping grounds.Mind, only vintage and classic cars as defined by an enacted law (preferably 31.12.1960 and older) should be allowed to be imported and nothing else. Each importer must provide an undertaking to export at least 80 % of the cars he imports or else his import licence could be in for scrutiny.
The interests of restorers don't clash with any manufacturer of present day cars, as no one will buy such older cars for daily use.
Then there will be foreign exchange scams and also scams involving Indian cars and their exports. At present export of the indigenous vintage and classic cars built prior to 31.12.1960 is not possible as per extant laws.Hence these restorers, under the garb of restoration may even try to send out our valuable heritage of vintage cars which needs legal curbs and penalties if detected.It means that they may show some Indian car as imported (junk) and fit for export after restoration.
Loopholes are always found but even in the present day, the laws relating to import of used and new cars (transfer of residence, tourism which is foreign exchange intensive, foreign exchange earning capacity of the importer and so on) are quite strict and the penal provisions are stringent. Remember the Hummers and Ferraris caught by the Customs Deptt. recently illegally masquerading as fit cases for imports but found otherwise. So the law works!
And as far as restoration standards are concerned the present day restoration works have highs and lows.These standards have scope for immense improvements to be world class. Can tell the good old story of Ambassadors and Premiers here, which were not fit for domestic use, not to talk about exports. And two and a half decades later now, we are now exporting cars with our Indian made ancillary parts. Not surprising that Hyundai and Suzuki have made India the hub for small car manufacture and exports.
The old car restoration industry can become organised and professional as it grows and maybe some car makers will also foray to test the waters here.
I have used the word "fabrication" of spares and not mass manufacture. Customised fabrication and not manufacture will be the key to get spares for rare cars, as manufacture needs volumes and thats uncertain and very much like weather. Also imports of spares can be mooted in fit cases with import licences.

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Old 21st August 2009, 01:36   #8
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Great idea especially for meduim value classics that need a lot of labor intensive work.

The high value ones like Bugattis etc are not worth the trouble because quality is v.v imp and people are ready to pay american labor prices.

Cars have to be brought in under carnet or some other scheme.
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Old 27th August 2009, 00:55   #9
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Well, I though that I will add my two bits, well, annas as we are in a vintage era.

The only way to get cars to India and restore and return is if you were able to do this in an SEZ. But is that renumerative? Certainly NOOOOOOOOOOOoooootttttttttttttt.
And why not? Well, the best cars requiring to be restored are being shipped out anyway.
First big problem is spares. Used spares are also required, these are not allowed to be imported.
We can do most mechanicals, tin, paint, assembly, but we cannot chrome.
Our skilled workforce has been self taught to do as much as possible in short cut. Like put a patch over a patch. Skip many steps like a good clean before applying paint. Example, Mr. PP Asher got his Healey done at renown places, and he sat on heads, fully hands on. Not many can do that or want to, it is a big bother. And when the paint starts to bubble after a few months, will you take you painter to USA for a touch up? Or will you ask the client to do that over there and send you the bill? No one would just leave such a matter.

We all read magazines of cars lying around, in September there will be an auction of a Swiss Junkyard which has Porsches, a Merc 190SL, etc, lots of delicious stuff. And they will go dirt cheap. But buy the stuff, bring to India? Then they will no longer be dirt cheap. I have also seen the pics of the junking Mercs, there are W109 coupes, Adenauer 300's, but so what?

And, how many cars does one imagine would be imported like this? The numbers would be too small for the government to even bother. And who will frame rules? What can be imported, what has to go back, what can be retained? Certainly not the government, they do not have an idea or the time/ex[erience. So some authority has to be appointed. How does one ensure that they will not be partisan like the authority which can issue certificates for vehicle registration?

The matter is too complex at present. Let us see what happens, if anything at all.
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Old 26th March 2010, 14:09   #10
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If only there was a reputed garage that specialises in restoration......
Of course that is not too heavy on the pocket..

Most of the garages i knew in Bombay Khar tired to ape DC with regards to Classic cars....

Spares is not an issue as they are available from abroad, but its the skill set that is required to restore a classic car that is most vital.
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